Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature Ujjwala scheme
for providing free cooking gas connection to poor on Friday came in for praise
from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which said it is a “major
achievement” in improving the environment and health of
“Providing access to LPG across India by 2020 is a major achievement. It is not an energy issue, it is an economic issue, it is a social issue,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said at a conference here.
Launched by Modi on May 1, 2016, in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women and children by providing free cooking gas (LPG) connection to poor families.
So far, about 7.4 crore such connections have been given. The target is to give 8 crore connections by 2020.
Use of forest wood and agriculture waste for cooking in rural households is a major source of respiratory diseases, affecting women and children, he said adding LPG is helping to provide a clean environment.
“Ujjwala is not just an energy achievement but also social and economic achievement,” he said.
Since the BJP government came to power in 2014, the number of LPG connections in the country has doubled to more than 26 crore, covering about 90 per cent of the population. The target is to provide LPG connection, which is clean, convenient and energy-efficient source for cooking, to all households by 2020-21. Last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also hailed the scheme.
“While the latest data show ambient air pollution levels are still dangerously high in most parts of the world, they also show some positive progress. Countries are taking measures to tackle and reduce air pollution from particulate matter. For example, in just two years, India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use,” the WHO report had said.
Birol said, India last year achieved the goal of providing electricity connection to all villages in the country and would soon give access of the same to every household. “This is a huge achievement.”
The Indian government, he said, had set a target of generating 175 GW of electricity from renewable sources such as solar energy by 2022, but going by the current pace, the target would have to be revised upward.
Also, the increased focus on using bio-energy is very important, he said adding these steps together with increased domestic production of oil and gas would help the country cut its import dependence.
India is more than 83 per cent dependent on imports for meeting its energy needs.
Birol went on to hail India’s role in lending a voice to the consumers in the global energy market.